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November 2017
Power Construction internship opens door to a career
     While many students struggle to find a career path, 
Excel Beyond 211 Dollars for Scholars® mentee Victoria (Ortiz) Magna realized in high school that she wanted to be an engineer. An internship last summer with Power Construction brought the 2014 graduate of James B. Conant High School one step closer to achieving her goal. More importantly, the internship led to an offer of a full-time job with the firm when she graduates next May.
     Now a senior majoring in civil engineering at Bradley University, Peoria, Ill., Victoria is a member of the first group of EB 211 students. Her initial interest in engineering was sparked by Conant's "Project Lead the Way," which emphasizes engineering studies.
     "I knew I was a math and science person," says Victoria. "I chose civil engineering because it was a little more general than some of the other specialties, and I liked structures and buildings."
CTCT-20171120_165754      Victoria applied for the internship at a job fair on Bradley's campus, where Power was recruiting candidates. The Rosemont-based company has an active internship program, emphasizes diversity in its recruiting efforts and supports other educational initiatives.  Power partners with City Colleges of Chicago and other local community colleges to supplement the classroom learning with hands-on opportunities while providing full-time employment to students taking courses toward a college degree. As another commitment to education, Terry Graber, Power's CEO, is on the EB 211 advisory council.
     Victoria interviewed for internships with several companies before choosing to become one of about 25 Power interns who worked with the company for three months last summer. One of the key factors in choosing Power was the opportunity to work with Power's VIP Group.
     The VIP Group is a dedicated team of more than 30 professionals working on projects that are typically under $10 million. The projects often focus on interior build outs or work in occupied buildings. This work is faster paced than the larger construction projects that project engineer interns typically are assigned to.
     "I worked on two projects from start to finish at Northwestern University," explains Victoria. "I had the opportunity to see more aspects of the work, which helped me make decisions about what direction to take my career."
     Working with an assistant project manager, Victoria experienced everything from writing requests for information from suppliers and coordinating with project sub-contractors, to going through punch lists of remaining tasks and making sure they were properly completed.
     "I learned a lot about working with a variety of people and how to gain their respect, even though they had more experience than me. I also found out how to solve some of the unexpected problems that you run into on a job site," says Victoria.
     While translating classroom learning to real life experience was one of the major benefits of the internship, perhaps the most important factor for Victoria was helping her decide on a specific focus within civil engineering.
     "I was trying to decide between working in design or the field," says Victoria. "I'm a people person who likes to see things come together, which happens on the job site. You don't see this as much on the design side."
     Reflecting on the impact of EB 211, Victoria appreciates the guidance and scholarship help she received from EB 211. "I've always considered myself very independent, but having the opportunity to have a mentor through EB 211 to talk to throughout college was helpful and supportive."
     Dorothy Ogurek, Victoria's mentor, confirms that she is a self-starter who has charted her own path. "Victoria has good instincts and great dedication. Every time I see her to discuss something, she's already done it," notes Dorothy. "She had several internship offers, so perhaps the biggest problem I helped her with was trying to decide which one to accept."
     Choosing the Power internship not only helped Victoria make critical decisions about her career path, but also opened the door to starting her professional career next May.

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Mission Statement
Excel Beyond 211 Dollars for Scholars is dedicated to mentoring, advising, and supporting youth determined to excel through college graduation and beyond.

Our Board Members
Jeff Butzen
Kathy Carroll
Miriam Castro
Bob Ingraham
Sue Quinlan
Nancy Robb
Pat Stack

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Because of the support of EB211, 85% of our mentees are persisting toward a college degree. This compares to a Pell Institute study, that shows nationally only 11% of first-generation, low income students will earn a college degree in six years. Specifically, 22% of our first-year mentees are on target to get their baccalaureate degree in four years, a significantly higher percent than the national average from the Pell report.
Besides the mentoring, we are proud to provide the mentees from the high school Class of 2017 with $18,000 in scholarships this year. This is in addition to the $17,000 in renewable scholarships from previous years, which brings the total amount of scholarship money distributed this year to $35,000. 
All the money we receive for scholarships is from donations from the following sources: not-for profits, family/private foundations, corporate donations, community organizations, fundraising and individuals, including donations from our five district high schools for scholarships earmarked for students from each school. We use 100% of donated money for scholarships or support funds.

Mentoring Matters!
Our volunteer mentors are clearly the backbone of our organization. Because of this, we are highlighting a mentor-mentee partnership in each issue of this newsletter.

Jennifer Navarrete
   It is typical for a mentee and mentor to take time to gel as a team. Not so for mentor Liz Arreola and mentee Jennifer Navarrete.
     About Liz, Jennifer says, "She is a marvelous person, and she has the kind of character I aspire to have. The great thing about Liz and me is that we have a lot in common. I remember we talked so much at the first EB211 meeting that even after everyone left the room, we were still conversing. . . She is my ideal mentor for college, and I could not have chosen a better person to guide me through this new part of my life."
     Jennifer is a graduate of Hoffman Estates High School. She is the oldest in her family and the first to attend college. She attends the University of Illinois, Chicago. She chose to live on campus to experience dorm and campus life.
     "Jennifer worked diligently to apply for scholarships. She received at least three scholarships, including one from EB211, and with help from FAFSA, she was able to live on campus. She worked weekends during high school and almost every day last summer at Portillo's to save money. She definitely did everything in her power to help pay for her college expenses. She is so self-driven and mature!" says Liz.
     Communicating by text works for this mentor/mentee team because of their busy schedules. "Liz and I try to communicate via text every week, and we are working on meeting every month. It has not been that easy to communicate, though, since the beginning of the school year, but Liz has responded whenever I have needed her," says Jennifer. "I do not feel like our relationship is forced. It is very genuine, so nothing will change even though I am at school."
     Liz concurs. "Jennifer and I communicate through text a lot. It makes it easier to have access to each other in case she has any questions or needs some sort of immediate help. Over the summer we created a list of all the items she would need for her dorm. I wanted to do this with her when I went off to college, I was so unprepared. No one in my family could help me because they did not know what every day items I would need. Creating that list with her was beneficial. Several times she looked up at me and said, 'I would never have thought of that.'"
     Liz credits Board Member Sue Quinlan for suggesting she become a mentor. "If it was not for Palatine High School and the help I received from the staff and teachers there, I would not have gone to college myself. . . Becoming a mentor for EB211 not only is the perfect opportunity to give back to District 211 but also help other first-generation students attend college because I, too, have been in their situation."
     Jennifer is also grateful to the district but especially EB211. "I have an incredible mentor, and I cannot take any credit for this. EB211 has provided me with a sense of calmness by bringing Liz into my life. I also appreciate the resources and funds available to me through EB211. It is a great organization, and they are doing an excellent job easing the minds of first-generation college students, like myself."

Excel Beyond 211 Dollars for Scholars | eb211dollarsforscholars@gmail.com

1750 S. Roselle Road, Palatine, IL  60067  | (224) 653-6200